Phyllis and Kevin Haran have lived with a lifetime of loss and grief.

They left their entire lives behind and ran away to protect their baby, but were forced into an agonising position when their secret was rumbled.

The couple made the agonising decision to give their son up over 40 years ago, then fought in vain to get him back through the courts, with devastating results.

"We loved him, and we never wanted him adopted. He's lost and we want him back," says Kevin on tonight's Long Lost Family.

The pair fell in love as teenagers in Ireland during the 1970s, with Phyllis falling pregnant just a couple of months into their relationship.

Aware of the scandal this would cause within their Catholic community, they hatched a plan to run away to England to bring up their baby.

Long Lost Family's Kevin (left) and Phyllis (right) reunited with their son Ruben (centre)
Long Lost Family's Kevin (left) and Phyllis (right) reunited with their son Ruben (centre)

They didn't tell their parents, just packed a bag and left for London, excitedly thinking they could do anything.

Phyllis and Kevin found casual work and rented out a room together - with baby Sean arriving six months after they had settled in.

But their happy family didn't last, as their furious landlady discovered they were keeping a baby in their flat and gave them less than 24 hours to get out.

Suddenly homeless and desperate to put their baby’s interests first, they agreed through an agency to place their son in the care of a family, with the possibility of adoption if they couldn’t find their feet.

"It was very difficult having him and keeping him for five weeks then having to give him up. But I thought we'd get him back again," says tearful Phyllis.

They found permanent jobs and a flat after two months, but made a devastating discovery when they went back to pick up their son.

With help from a team of trained intermediaries, DNA experts and investigators all over the world, Nicky and Davina find people that previously couldn’t be traced
With help from a team of trained intermediaries, DNA experts and investigators all over the world, Nicky and Davina find people that previously couldn’t be traced

The couple were told he was staying with a Spanish family and it was best to leave him where he was.

Their only chance to get their child back was to go to court, but the judge ordered that the adoption be finalised.

"I couldn't believe it. I felt betrayed. Devastated. It's horrible," confesses Phyllis.

Phyllis and Kevin got married, had more children and returned to Ireland, but in 2008 they suffered another heartbreaking loss.

Their other son Ryan was killed in a road traffic accident at the age of just 24.

Kevin says: "Ryan is dead. The chapter was closed. It's heartbreaking for any parent to go through. But it's finalised, it's over, where as this adoption is still carrying on and is painful. Which is worse? I think adoption is sometimes worse than the death."

Nick meets up with Ruben in his hometown in Spain
Nick meets up with Ruben in his hometown in Spain

The couple were desperate to find out what happened to their firstborn child - and had already been searching for decades when they asked the Long Lost Family team for help.

They discovered he was now named Ruben Molinero, then found he was now living in a small mountain town west of Madrid, having been brought to Spain by his adoptive parents aged four.

"It was a big surprise," said Ruben on discovering that his parents wanted to meet him.

"I didn't expect them to be looking for me. When I was young, my feeling was they had abandoned me. So I didn't want to look back, I just wanted to look forward."

Tearful Ruben gets emotional when shown photos of his birth parents, then discovers he has two sisters and brother Ryan who died in 2008.

Phyllis and Kevin are grateful to Ruben's adoptive parents for bringing him up and acknowledge that the judge did what he thought was best at the time.

Davina McCall is helping to reunited long lost families in the new series

They are thrilled to discover that Ruben is living in the Spanish mountains with his wife Raquel and 11-year-old son Alex.

A staggering 45 years after being separated, the couple are reunited with their son at the hotel in Ireland where their love first blossomed.

With the help of a translator, Phyllis and Kevin explain to their son that they never abandoned him all those years ago.

Phyllis admits it's a weight off her shoulders to finally be to see her son again, who she is tremendously proud of, while Kevin says it feels like they have never been apart.

"I feel there is a connection between us. It's like you have a new family. To know your family is to know yourself," says Ruben.

"Today is a special day. A new story starts and I hope it will be a good one."

Searcher Michael reunited with his half sister Lorraine
Searcher Michael reunited with his half sister Lorraine

The new series of Long Lost Family starts with two heartbreaking stories of separation.

In the last year over 4,000 people from across the UK have contacted the Long Lost Family team, asking them to find their missing family members.

With help from a team of trained intermediaries, DNA experts and investigators all over the world, Nicky and Davina find people that previously couldn’t be traced.

They uncover incredible family secrets and answer questions that have haunted entire lives.

At a time of international crisis which has seen many people experience separation from loved ones, these reunions have more poignancy than ever.

Michael O'Neil grew up in Glasgow thinking Katie O'Neil was his mother - but made an earth-shattering discovery at the age of 16.

It wasn't until he applied to join the Navy that he discovered that a different person was named on his birth certificate - Catherine Casey.

Michael was told she was a young local girl who left him to be babysat with the family then never returned for him.

Michael finally meets his long lost sister Lorraine

Whenever he returned to Scotland on leave from the Navy, Michael asked his extended family if they could tell him anything about his birth mother and where she had gone.

Ever since he has been trying to find out what happened to him but was met with a brick wall from the older members of the family who kept silent.

Using a DNA database they found a match with Catherine's grandaughter, who sadly revealed Michael's mother died 12 years ago.

But half-sister Lorraine always knew about Michael and says their mother could never get over losing him.

Lorraine explains that Catherine became pregnant after getting involved with a married man and believed members of her own family were bringing Michael up.

Catherine tried to find Michael but was told he didn't want to see her, leaving her devastated - meaning they never met because neither of them knew the truth.

Michael finally gets to find out where he came from in another emotional reunion that will leave viewers in tears.

*Long Lost Family airs tonight on ITV at 9pm